It is not uncommon to find pets in rental properties nowadays. As a landlord, though, should you allow pets in your rentals? What rules should you implement to protect your assets?
The Advantages of Allowing Pets in Rental Properties
When making any decision, it helps to weigh out the pros and cons. Are there any benefits to allowing pets in rentals?
1. More Interested Tenant
To most people, pets are a non-negotiable part of the equation. Pet owners looking for a new place to live are more likely to choose pet-friendly rentals than those with a no-pets policy. While banning all pets from your property does guarantee no damages caused by pets, you are also significantly narrowing down your pool of possible tenants. In fact, 67 percent of households in the United States own at least one pet.
In contrast, if you put up your house for rent with pets allowed, you are probably going to attract more interested tenants. Filling vacancies with quality tenants is hard enough. If you add a no-pets policy on top of that, you might not be able to find new renters at all.
2. Responsible Tenants
Owning a pet comes with a lot of responsibilities. While pets are a source of joy and entertainment, they also have needs.
Pet owners have to dedicate a good amount of time and attention to their furry companions. It is not too far-fetched to assume that this quality of being responsible also translates to their behavior as a tenant. Many landlords have even found that renters with pets tend to care more for the property because they treat it as their home.
3. Pet Deposit/Rent or Higher Rent
Believe it or not, a pet-friendly apartment for rent gives you a chance to earn more money. This usually comes in the form of higher rent or a pet deposit. Landlords can justify charging an extra fee because pets come with risks. They can damage the property, injure others, and make noise at ungodly hours. A landlord will also need to clean the common areas more often.
Don’t be afraid to charge a higher rent or pet rent. Provided they are reasonable amounts and within the law, most pet owners will gladly pay the extra cost if it means they get to bring their pets home with them.
4. Tenant Retention
Allowing pets in rental properties can directly impact tenant retention in more ways than one. First of all, tenants are less likely to move out if they feel attached to the rental. And the presence of their pet can make any place feel like home.
Secondly, it is hard to find a good rental that permits pets. Not all landlords understand the advantages of allowing pets in their rentals. They fear the damages and complaints that come with pets more.
Finally, pets take time to adjust to new surroundings, particularly dogs. Dog owners don’t want their furry friends to feel stressed out, which can happen every time they move.
The Downsides of Allowing Pets in Rental Properties
As with a lot of things, allowing pets in rental units and homes also comes with disadvantages.
Some pets, such as fish, don’t pose a threat to the property at all. But, as dogs and cats make up the majority of pets, landlords are understandably worried about property damage. This can come in the form of scratch marks, chewed wires, damaged wood, and the destruction of landscaping.
Dogs bite and cats scratch — that’s just the reality of pet ownership. As a landlord, though, injury caused by pets is a real liability problem. A good way to protect yourself from this is to require tenants to purchase renters insurance with adequate liability coverage.
Cat hair and dog fur are common allergens. While walking in common areas, these pets can shed their fur or have them spread through the HVAC system. If other tenants have cat and dog allergies, they will certainly complain. To avoid this problem, make sure to inform everyone in the building that you operate a pet-friendly rental. That way, they can come into the place with clear expectations.
When you allow renting with pets, particularly dogs, noise is a given. They can bark and disturb others in the building, which means you will have to field more complaints.
Again, it is best to set everyone’s expectations early on. Let them know they are moving into a pet-friendly place, so noise and odors are normal.
You can also control this from the pet owner’s side. During the screening process, ask the potential renter if their dog barks a lot. You can also contact their previous landlords to ask if their neighbors have ever complained about the pet.
5. Association’s No-Pets Policy
In homeowners or condo associations, landlords have to comply with certain rules, too. Some associations have put pet limitations in place, while others prohibit pets altogether. In either case, you will need to tailor your pet rules to match the association’s restrictions.
Setting Rules for Pets in a Rental Property
If you do decide to allow pets in your rental, it is a good idea to set up pet rules that tenants must follow.
1. Restrict the Number and Size
Consider limiting the number of pets a tenant can keep depending on the size of your rental property. Small apartments that allow more than two pets per unit will likely face more problems with occupancy limits. There are also state and local laws you should look up about fire hazards. It is rare for tenants to have more than two pets, though.
In addition to this, you can also restrict the size and weight of the pet. This usually applies to dogs, as they can come in various sizes. For example, you might only permit dogs that weigh 20 pounds or less.
2. Require Tenants to Obtain Approval
Apart from restricting the size and number of pets, it is smart to require tenants to obtain your approval if they want to bring their pets with them. Remember to ask the right questions when evaluating pets, such as:
- How long has the tenant owned the pet?
- Is the pet trained?
- Has the pet caused property damage in the past?
- Have previous neighbors complained about the pet?
- Who will care for the pet if the tenant is not at home?
You can also establish a rule that prohibits non-tenants from bringing their pets inside the premises.
3. Charge Refundable Pet Fees
As previously explained, pets give you an opportunity to earn extra money. But, if you want, you can make pet fees or deposits refundable. Similar to a security deposit, a refundable pet deposit can motivate tenants from preventing property damage caused by pets. This works especially great when you are renting a house with multiple pets.
However, there are some things you should keep in mind when it comes to pet fees:
- Not all states allow you to charge pet fees. California is a prime example.
- Keep the fee reasonable.
- Never charge a pet fee or deposit for service animals or companion animals.
4. Require Proper Vaccinations and IDs
Make it a requirement for tenants to keep their pets up-to-date on all vaccines. Cats and dogs should also wear collars with name tags at all times. If you live in a place where pets need a license, require those, too.
5. Clarify Tenant Responsibility
It is essential that tenants understand from the very beginning that pets are their responsibility. They must keep their pets in check at all times to avoid damage, injury, and noise.
Never leave them unsupervised. They must also clean up after their pets, whether it is inside or outside of the unit or home. Tenants must know that any harm, damage, or liability that arises from their pets should be covered by them.
6. Have a Pet Policy Rental Agreement
It is important to communicate your pet policy to interested renters and reiterate it again during the application process. Include a copy of the policy in your lease agreement, even for those without pets as they may want to get one in the future. Beyond that, your lease should give you the right to change the pet rules, provided you give tenants reasonable notice.
When It Comes Down to It
As you can see, allowing pets in rental properties comes with both pros and cons. There are a few risks associated with pets, but you can mitigate a lot of them by implementing strict rules. Ultimately, though, the choice is yours to make.
Juggling pet rules with other landlord duties can be taxing. Make your life easier by hiring a property management company today. Start your search for the best one in your area using our online directory.
- How To Find Tenants That Are Reliable And Trustworthy
- Pest Control In Rental Properties: Who Is Responsible?
- Are There Rules For An Apartment Rent Increase?